Mayor, U.S. attorney ask Oregon governor to activate National Guard
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams are asking Gov. Kate Brown to activate the National Guard to help quell ongoing violent protests.
So far, she has declined to do so.
Williams also said that he believes the violence amidst three nights of otherwise peaceful protests, occurring in Portland and other American cities, involve organized groups that plan and carry out acts of violence like arson as part of a deliberate strategy to cause chaos. He would not elaborate on who he thinks is responsible.
"This is common knowledge being discussed nationally… everyone's talking about it," Williams said. "In my mind, there's no question that there's organized efforts. Identifying the source of those is a process we're engaged in."
Wheeler and Williams made the public request for National Guard support during a Monday morning, June 1, press conference following a third night of protests over the death of George Floyd. Sunday night's protests included confrontations with the police at the downtown Justice Center, vandalism of the adjacent Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, and damage at more downtown businesses.
Wheeler said he had privately asked Brown to activate the National Guard in a number of phone calls. She proposed such alternatives as more Oregon State Police resources. Wheeler said Monday they were not enough.
"We need leadership, we need help, we need more bodies to stop this senseless violence," said Wheeler, adding that the request was supported by Police Chief Jamie Resch and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese.
Brown's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wheeler said he understands the anger caused by the murder of Floyd, an African-American, while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. The mayor praised the thousands of protesters who have remained peaceful all three night. But he said the criminal activity of a few detracts from that message and has to stop.
Wheeler and Williams also said the violence that has happened at times on all three nights threatens the lives of first responders, including firefighters who have responded to numerous building, car and dumpsters fires.
According to Reese, National Guard troops would be used to protect public infrastructure such as the Justice Center, freeing up Portland police and officers from other agencies for crowd management.
Asked by a reporter if there was risk to activating the National Guard, Williams said, "There is a risk. There is always a risk. But we need to stand with law enforcement officers. A line has been drawn in the sand and it has been crossed."
Wheeler also said that he was extended the curfew again tonight. It will be in effect from 8 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Anyone violating it is subject to arrest and a $500 fine.
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